As reported in the South Florida Business Journal, Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum has filed suit against Merck & Co. for alleged deceptive marketing and promotion of the prescription drug Vioxx. Here are excerpts from the article:
The lawsuit claims that Merck repeatedly failed to disclose the drug’s adverse effects while offering it to the state’s Medicaid program as a safe painkiller, in direct violation of Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.
Vioxx was used to treat joint pain until it was removed from the market in 2004 after studies suggested those taking it had an increased risk of heart attack and stroke associated with long-term use.
The lawsuit follows a three-year investigation of Merck’s promotional practices and alleges that, due to the company’s marketing practices, numerous state agencies approved the inclusion of Vioxx as a covered or approved drug, and agreed to pay for the prescription or reimburse its expense.
The suit also alleges that Merck tried to intimidate physicians and researchers who questioned the safety of Vioxx, and may have misrepresented or concealed published evidence, including its own, showing possible harmful effects.